Umbro only releases a new version of its much-adored Speciali football boot every two to three years. The latest incarnation of the legendary boot is the Speciali Eternal Pro. This is our World Exclusive review of the stunning blackout version of the shoe.
Before we get into our experience with the Speciali Eternal, here are Umbro’s specifications of the boot.
- Lightweight soft leather upper offering supreme comfort and durability
- A-frame overlay offers exceptional support and stability
- Fold-over tongue with a touch fastening to keep it in place
- Dipped Achilles heel tab reduces foot fatigue and pressure
- Pre-molded sock liner gives enhanced fit and support
- New ‘Wishbone’ technology allows for controlled support throughout the foot
- Flex grooves in the forefoot offer flexibility and movement
- Resized studs in an ergonomic pattern reduce pressure
Who’s Wearing the Umbro Speciali Eternal?
Umbro’s marquee player Pepe (Real Madrid and Portugal) laces up the Umbro Speciali Eternal (available at Lovell Soccer) week in and week out. The boot has also been spotted on the feet of Andoni Iraola (New York City FC), Stephen Warnock, Jake Buxton (both Derby County FC). Retired Speciali wearers Alan Shearer, Roberto Carlos and Deco will probably choose the boot whenever they turn out for charity, testimonial and masters matches.
The Umbro Speciali Eternal was worn by one of our testers during a break-in session, a couple of training sessions and for a full two months of pickup and Sunday League action. Our tester is a former NCAA Division 1 soccer player who usually plays as a defender or defensive midfielder in competitive action.
After giving the Speciali a decidedly modern control boot look with the Special 3 and 4 in 2012 and 2013 respectively, Umbro took the look of the boot back to its roots in the 1990s with the Eternal. The design of the boot is extremely retro and screams heritage. The boot is full grain leather with an old school fold over tongue that fastens to the boot via a Velcro block on the lacing area. The upper is well padded with classic soccer boot stitching. Even the heel counter is stitched while the Achilles support area of the boot had nineties-inspired ridges on its sides. The feel of the pre-internet era is completed with use of Umbro’s lowercase 90s branding and sewn on diamonds on the boots sides. The one modern aesthetic element in the Speciali Pro Eternal is the use of transparent tips for its studs (something Roberto Carlos would have definitely liked back in the day).
The Umbro Speciali Eternal comes in a number of colorways ranging from the famous black and white made famous some two decades ago to modern to purple, orange, yellow and white. The Blackout Edition of the boot was released last Christmas and is the colorway that we’re testing. As you can tell from our pictures, the all black Speciali Eternal is a sight to behold and the absolutely best colorway of the boot to date. Indeed it was hard for us to not enshrine this work of football art in a display case instead of taking it onto the soccer pitch.
Despite its throwback vibe, the Umbro Speciali Eternal is full the latest football boot technology. The most obvious is the modern soleplate and configurations of rounded studs. Umbro’s sole flex grooves and always appreciated A-Frame are also present.
Umbro’s Speciali Eternal fit true to size. I wore it in my usual soccer boot size of 10 with my usual pair of under socks beneath by football socks with a pair of carbon fiber shin guards slid into them. I had absolutely no problems with slippage, hotspots or blisters. My only fit-related challenge was finding the exact placement of the fold over tongue onto the Velcro intended to keep it in place. This was not a problem with the left boot but a problem with the right side.
The tongue on the Umbro Speciali Eternal is designed to be pulled up relatively high compared to most soccer boots on the market today. This makes it extremely easy to get your feet into them. Once in I simply let the tongue come back down and pulled the textured flat laces on the boot tight for a secure fit supported by the brilliant Umbro A-Frame on the sides of the upper.
Upon slipping on the Umbro Speciali Eternal, the first thing that struck me was the softness of the upper on the foot. The feel can be best described as running shoe like. This isn’t entirely unexpected since the Speciali Eternal is so well-padded and has a sock liner. Given that there are now so many boots that sacrifice comfortable uppers for weight nowadays, it is a very welcome feature to this reborn classic.
The insole of the Speciali Eternal is also modern and supports the sole of the foot well. Combined with the equally modern Wishbone technology soleplate, the result is an extremely comfortable ride that makes the shoe ready to use with minimal break-in. I was at ease jogging in them after five minutes and amazed at how quickly my feet adapted to them (and vice versa). Within fifteen minutes I was fine sprinting and practicing lateral cuts in the Speciali Eternal.
Given that the Umbro Speciali Eternal can be classified as a control or power boot, it is not on the lighter side. Coming in a 282 grams or 9.9 oz., it is heavier than most other current professional grade boots of this nature. This was the one aspect of the boot that I had to get used to since comparable cleats these days usually weight 7 to 9.5 oz. Needless to say, more weight to carry can slow you down on the pitch.
Umbro’s Wishbone outsole does the job again when it comes to maintaining stability for the Speciali Eternal Pro. It works in concert with the lowered heel counter and conical studs to provide fantastic traction and footing on both natural and artificial grass surfaces. I never had to worry about my balance when wearing them as long as the field was turf or dry grass. The stability was also good on very dry fields with no discomfort experienced because of stud pressure.
I’m a natural defender. The only time I foray forward is for passing to midfielders or delivering crosses as a wingback. As such I don’t score many goals even in pickup and training matches. However, since donning the Umbro Speciali Eternal Pro I’ve been on a scoring and assist streak. While the boot isn’t totally responsible for this it does help because of its soft leather upper that seems to mold even more to my feet every time I wear the boot. Hence the touch gets better with wear (not something we find much in an era of synthetic soccer boots).
The feel that the upper of the Speciali Eternal imparts is second to none and creates a great level of intimacy with the ball. I think the stability and padding of the boot also helps with this. The end result are deadly accuracy with any pass made with the instep. Dribbling with the front of the foot is great as well because of the touch while long passes with the front of the foot are near intuitive (i.e. little practice is required to figure how much force to put on the ball for accuracy). All of this results in a fantastic boot for one and two touch football. If you’re the type of player who traps, passes and moves, passes then moves, or is quick on the shot then the Umbro Speciali Eternal will complement your game superbly.
The Speciali series has always been a very protective boot in spite of Umbro’s modernization of it throughout its soon to be 25 year history. The Speciali Eternal continues this tradition is a fantastic manner thanks to its fold over tongue and ample upper padding that both shield the foot from stamps and reckless tackles in which studs can and anywhere. This is extremely refreshing in our era of lightweight, extra thin uppers that will have you feeling the pain of someone else’s stud pressure. I found this quite welcome as a defender and felt more confident than usual going in for tackles and tussles with the opposition. One less thing to be worried about in a game in which the mental aspect is as important as the physical!
Well over twenty matches and training sessions in, the Umbro Speciali Eternal Pro looks almost as good as the day I took it out of its box. There is nothing to complain about in terms of quality and craftsmanship! I expect them to hold up for at least two year of regular footballing action. They do require a bit of work for maintenance however. Since there are full grain leather and all black you do have to dust them off, wipe mud off and polish them in order for them to maintain their striking shiny all black look. Bring on the old cloth and black Kiwi shoe polish!
A classic reborn, the Umbro Speciali Eternal Pro Blackout Edition is among our favorite soccer boots of 2016 so far. It excels in every aspect from design to performance on the pitch. If you are a defender or midfield then we highly recommend it to you. The boot is currently available at a price of £49.99 / $72 US at Lovell Soccer making it an absolute steal!